PARIS — A replica crown of the King of Siam given to France's emperor in the mid-19th century was among 15 “priceless” pieces of art stolen from a Chinese museum south of here, French cultural officials said.
The Culture Ministry says the break-in before dawn Sunday at the Chinese Museum at Chateau de Fontainebleau was over in less than seven minutes. Police are investigating.
The ministry said the stolen objects were assembled by Empress Eugenie, the wife of French Emperor Napoleon III. On the ground floor of the Gros Pavilion, she built a small museum containing gifts from the King of Siam in 1861 and works of art taken during the pillage of the Summer Palace in Beijing.
King Rama IV sent a delegation to France, hoping to stave off the European country's desire for colonisation. The ambassadors in 1861 presented Napoleon III with a replica of the royal crown and two royal palanquins, one designed for a king and the other, with curtains, for a queen.
Castle spokesman Alexis de Kermel said he had no estimation of the objects' value. He called them "priceless" and the master works of the museum.